HOW TO PLANT FALL BULBS FOR EARLY SPRING COLOR
Crocus, Tulip, Daffodil, Hyacinth, and Allium bulbs are popular spring blooming favorites. With a little planning and a few tips from us here at Lake Kountry, planting these flower bulbs is easy, fun and exciting while you patiently wait for them to herald the first signs of the upcoming spring.
First, Plant bulbs as soon as the ground is cool, when evening temperatures average between 40° to 50°F. Generally, October is ideal for us here in zone 4. You can, if necessary, store bulbs for a month or longer if you keep them in a cool dry place. The cooler weather allows spring blooming bulbs to winter over, this is important in order for bulbs to provide beautiful spring cheerful blooms.
Second, consider location. Plant your bulbs in a well drained soil, bulbs do not like “wet feet” and may rot if left in wet soil too long. Avoid areas where water collects, such as the bottom of hills and runoff areas. Also plant at least 4 ft away from any heat sources like the foundation of your home so that their dormancy is not disrupted. Bulbs also like sun and do well in many different areas including under trees.
Third, design. Do you want formal rows or a more random display? Clusters give a concentration of color for greatest impact. Keep in mind the height of the flowers once they bloom. Generally, for bulbs that bloom at the same time you would plant low bulbs in front of high. But there are times to break this rule. For example, if the low growing bulbs bloom early and the tall bulbs bloom late, then plant the tall in front. Their display will camouflage the dying foliage of the smaller bulbs! You can stagger the bloom time by planting mid- and late-season bloomers together, creating a spring display that blooms in succession for a whole season of color!
Planting Fall Bulbs Step by Step:
Step 1: Loosen soil in the planting bed to a depth of about 8”. Remove any weeds, rocks or other debris. You can mix in compost, other organic matter or slow releasing bulb fertilizer if your soil lacks nutrients. A trick to deter squirrels is to add a handful of bone meal to your hole when planting.
Step 2: Depending on the bulb, follow the recommendation on the label for planting depth. As a general rule, plant big bulbs about 8″ deep and small bulbs about 5″ deep. Set the bulb in the hole pointy side up or the roots down. It’s easy to spot the pointy end of a tulip; tougher with a crocus. If you can’t figure out the top from the bottom, plant the bulb on its side, in most cases, even if you don’t get it right the flower bulb will still find its way topside.
Step 3: Now that the bulbs are planted, back fill with soil over the hole, lightly compress the soil but do not pack it, water to stimulate root growth. There is no need to water continuously unless you live in an area with low precipitation in the winter months.
AFTERCARE IN THE SPRING:
Fertilizing: For bulbs that are intended to naturalize (return for several years) or for bulbs that are coming into their second year, spread an organic fertilizer such as compost, or a slow release bulb fertilizer on top of the soil.
Pruning: When the flowers have completed blooming, cut the flower head off but do not cut the foliage. Bulbs will use the foliage to gather nutrients from the sun and store for the following seasons. Once the foliage has turned yellow or brown you can cut them to ground level.
With these tips, you can feel confident incorporating the beauty and awe of spring blooming bulbs into your landscape!
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